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AI already a game-changer for some… but how do we all adapt?

It has been said that true progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice. For the most part, this is correct, but occasionally something new comes along with the promise of major advancement and is heralded with a deafening fanfare.

Similar to the game-changing impact of social media on our personal and business lives around 2010, Artificial intelligence has become the latest rapid and highly-visible change that we all hear about and are trying to adapt, adopt and understand.

While many businesses have proactively embraced the use of AI in its various forms, for some business owners, the mere mention of it is enough to bring them out in a cold sweat.

Our recent event with Liverpool Law Society and Liverpool John Moores University brought to life some of the macro and micro issues that AI is (self?) generating. Aside from questions about how to effectively implement AI solutions and develop the necessary future skills among staff, understandably there is also much ethical debate around the dangers it may pose to commercial and personal security.

Our expert panel – including Derek Tierney of ‘Think-Mad’, Rebecca Jobling from Lewis Silkin, Dr. Jennifer Graham from LJMU & Paul Twigg from CMS – debated the application of AI within businesses, some of the barriers to entry and examples of best practice.

Beyond the use of tools like ChatGPT, panelists discussed and detailed uses of AI technology, including the productivity gains achieved by legal firms in their examination of cases using AI to sift and sort casework using probability models to determine the likelihood of success. However, there were notes of caution regarding the lack of nuance and context that summary decisions on legal matters could create through uncontested use of such technology.

The changing skillset of the workforce, in the context of AI, sustainability, equality and diversity, was another strong discussion and debating point, with panelists recognising the advancement of automation into generative AI was a logical step that needed iterative skills development rather than wholesale changes. The panel also recognised that the digital skills gap remained a challenge for the Liverpool City Region to overcome in delivering the maximum potential of the technology.

Whilst the panel delivered a message of cautious enthusiasm, there was agreement in the room about the need for greater regulation and legislation around the provision of AI to ensure that the UK has the power to control how, when and where AI is used and to protect people and businesses from misuse and abuse.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has already announced that £100m of existing funding will be allocated to support the regulation of AI. It is expected that £10m of that funding will specifically support regulator capability, while nearly £90m will go towards the establishment of nine new ‘hubs’ established to carry out research on ways to embed responsible approaches in the deployment of AI.

In its long-awaited response to the AI white paper (originally published in March 2023) the government last month confirmed its commitment to creating new guidelines on the use of AI and using existing regulatory frameworks to mitigate potential AI harms, while also recognising that the UK and other jurisdictions will need binding measures further down the road to ensure compliance with regulations.

Like it or not, AI is here to stay, and the businesses who benefit from it most will be those with the greatest understanding and whose minds are open to possibilities.

If you have questions or stories of success about about using AI in your business, get in touch with the Chamber and look out for more ‘Insight’ sessions delivered on the topic during 2024.